I love learning more every week

Mike Ford

My journey to become the Senior High Youth Pastor at Franconia Mennonite Church started with an innocent conversation over a year ago with Marlene Frankenfield, Franconia Conference Youth Minister (if conversations with Marlene are ever innocuous). I was working with Marlene and another conference youth minister on the details of a future event and felt that it would be appropriate to drop the hint that, while I would assist in the planning, it was likely that I would not be there in person to host the event because I was sensing a job change was in the wind. Marlene’s response was, “You know, Franconia Mennonite is looking for a youth minister.”

I recall that I tried to politely respond, saying something like, “Thanks, but no thanks,” thinking at the time that becoming a youth pastor wasn’t likely what the Lord had in mind. Yet, God’s nudge to Franconia persisted, and a year later, here I am, writing on the eve of my installation service as a pastor. Indeed, a journey that was initially unexpected and challenging at times is now exciting and fulfilling as I learn my way.

Over the last two years, my wife and I had been feeling God’s nudge to consider a vocational change. Frankly, I had thought at the time that, after 13 years in Christian camping, I’d be headinginto some field other than vocational ministry. We had heard California pastor and author Erwin McManus speak and were deeply impacted by his challenge to not get too comfortable in your service to the Lord, not to stop taking risks, to be willing to serve the Lord no matter what change in life might come of it. We began a season of putting ourselves sincerely before the Lord, asking if God was leading us to a new place where we could serve, considering options and opportunities as they opened up.

I believe that all Christians are in full-time ministry, called to be salt and light to the world through our daily service, whether we lay bricks or deliver mail or wait tables or manage people or parent children or otherwise. Some of us get the privilege of doing our full-time ministry through a position at the church. I’m excited to serve
at Franconia, hoping that my love for Jesus and desire for others to grow in service and passion might well serve the needs of our youth. To be sure, there have been times on the journey when I’ve wondered if I have what ittakes to be a good pastor, if my take on culture was well suited, if not growing up in the Mennonite church waslearning_more.jpggoing to be a handicap. In the end, as we talked, prayed, and discerned, God gave all involved a sense that this could and would work for his glory, that we’d both learn and be stretched in healthy ways, if we were willing to walk forward in faith.

Here I am, still getting used to the title of “pastor,” wondering if one ever gets used to that title. I mean, simply put, I’m just a guy who loves and is excited about life in Jesus and wants others to know and follow him. Now I get the incredible opportunity to do that each day as my vocation, focusing on Senior High youth. I’m excited, I’m fortunate, and I love learning every week more about the youth I work with, the church I serve, and the area I now call home.